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On 4 October 2018 the national Childcare Voucher scheme is due to close. This follows a six-month extension offered by the government since March this year. The delay was a result of parents contacting their MPs desperate to save the scheme. Now employers are also backing the petition to save Childcare Vouchers ahead of its closure next month.
What is it?
The government’s introduction of tax-free childcare, which tops up parents’ contributions with an extra 20% (capped at £500 per quarter or double this if your child is disabled), is what has pushed the decision to stop Childcare Vouchers.
The new scheme does have some positives: self-employed parents can apply and it applies to individual children rather than a family payment. However, the actual accounts are difficult to use, with payments taking up to a week to process.
I experienced this frustration for myself. I get paid on the last Friday of the month and my childcare provider needs paying by the 1st of the month. Not realising that the payment into the tax-free childcare account wouldn’t be immediate, and then would take a further four days to transfer into my childcare providers account, I was given a late payment notice by my son’s nursery. From a quick Google search I realised that I’m among thousands of parents who have fallen victim to this slow scheme.
The new tax-free childcare scheme also requires you to reconfirm your eligibility every three months. With two children in nursery, this is arduous admin I could do without! Although I appreciate that it is important to ensure only eligible parents are accessing the government’s support, Childcare Vouchers were so much easier to manage as a busy parent.
Unfortunately I moved employer last year and my new one had already decided to no longer support Childcare Vouchers. If one parent is accessing tax-free childcare, that scheme does not allow you to also receive Childcare Vouchers so I had no choice but to end my Childcare Voucher payments.
These restrictions went further and prevented families accessing the new scheme if only one parent was working. Childcare Vouchers delivered the savings that these families really needed.
However, the ending of Childcare Vouchers entirely is removing the choice that most families have had so far.
How you can help to keep Childcare Vouchers open:
1. Contact your local MP
You can make a real difference by contacting your MP and asking them to put pressure on the government to keep Childcare Vouchers open to new users beyond October.
Its free, easy to do, and takes less than five minutes – just follow these steps:
- Visit theyworkforyou.com and enter your postcode to find your local MP.
- Click on your MP’s name.
- Click on the button near the top left of the page and enter the subject line ‘Keep Childcare Vouchers open for parents’.
Tell your MP why you think Childcare Vouchers should and must be kept open to new entrants, and ask them to urge the government to do so.
Make your email personal to you and your family, telling them how you have benefited, or hope to in future, for example:
- How have Childcare Vouchers helped your family financially or get into and stay in work?
- Have you found the scheme easy to use?
- Has the scheme been beneficial for your work-life balance?
- Has it facilitated a more open conversation with your employer about your childcare needs?
- If you are expecting your first child, are you worried you’ll be unable to access Childcare Vouchers?
- Are you thinking of changing jobs, but worried if you do so you could lose access to Childcare Vouchers?
- Are you able to use Childcare Vouchers to help you with wraparound childcare costs for school aged children e.g. breakfast or afterschool clubs or summer schemes? (Tax-Free Childcare is only available for children up to age 11).
- Is only one parent in your household working?(to be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare, both parents must be in employment, and meet certain income criteria).
- Are you subject to immigration control and unable to access other support with your childcare costs?
10. Do Childcare Vouchers offer you more support than other schemes?
11. Anything else that you feel might be relevant in the argument to persuade government to keep Childcare Vouchers open.
2. To save Childcare Vouchers, share this campaign with your friends and colleagues, including new or expectant parents.
Encourage your networks to write to their MP so that all parents can have access to Childcare Vouchers beyond October. As the deadline to join the scheme approaches, they may lose out unless the government keeps it open.
3. Share this campaign on social media to save Childcare Vouchers
You can also use social media to call on your MP to keep Childcare Vouchers open to new entrants. Share this campaign on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Here is a sample tweet you could use and personalise:
Please [insert MP’s twitter handle] stand with working parents and urge @hmtreasuryto halt the closure of Childcare Vouchers to new entrants and keep this vital support open alongside Tax-Free Childcare #SaveChildcareVouchers
Here is a sample Facebook post:
I value flexibility and choice when it comes to paying for childcare. If you do too, stand alongside working parents like me and join the #SaveChildcareVouchers Lobby your MP to save Childcare Vouchers! Find out more here.
Here is a sample LinkedIn post:
The government plans to close Childcare Vouchers in October 2018. Join the #SaveChildcareVouchers campaign now and stand with working parents to ensure we all have access to the same financial support towards the cost of childcare. Find out more here.
Disclosure – this is a collaborative post.